"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." (NIV) 1 John 3:16
My dad was a Marine who fought in the Korean War. We never heard about his time in Korea. We never heard any "battle" stories. We saw a couple of pictures of him with his platoon. Yet, he never spoke of his time in Korea - and to be honest, I never asked. I always thought it was something he didn't want to talk about. Yet, what he did talk about, with great pride and humility, was being a Marine. Daddy loved being a Marine - down to his core. It was definitely part of who he was. This picture that you see above, from Iwo Jima, was a picture we knew about in our household. It wasn't until a few years ago that I was able to see this memorial - and I saw it at night. I was completely awestruck. Daddy came home from Korea - many others didn't.
Yes, tomorrow is Memorial Day. It is an incredibly important day in United States history. It is when we stop and reflect on the important men and women who gave their lives so that we have freedoms that other countries don't. I can't imagine giving up my life for someone I have never met - someone I don't know. Yet, these brave men and women went into battle without hesitation. I thought about this a long time this morning as I sat in church. I get to wake up on Sunday, go to church and worship with fellow Christians, host a Bible study in our home, and speak of God when I choose. This isn't possible in every country. Not every Christian has that opportunity. How very blessed I am that those who sacrificed, who gave everything including their lives, were willing to do that for someone they didn't know - me. Thank you doesn't seem to be enough. By them giving up their lives I have hope, joy and freedom.
There was another person who also sacrificed everything. He died on a cross for sins that He didn't commit. He suffered and was tortured for something He didn't do. He willingly gave up His life for me, ME, because He loved me. He went into battle willingly. In fact, it was His life mission = to lay down his life for me. He did this so that I can have hope, joy and freedom. Joy that I have salvation in His death. Hope that I will one day see Him and those that have gone before me in paradise, And freedom from the peril of sin. What my Dear Lord did for me, sometimes, is too hard to comprehend.
On this Memorial Day, please take a moment from the cookouts and activities, to remember. Let us remember those who gave everything so that we can have freedoms, especially the freedom to worship our Savior. May we also reflect on the one who saved us from our sins - who has prepared a room for us in paradise. Most importantly, may we reflect on BOTH these items not just on Memorial Day, or Easter, but every day of our lives.
To those who have lost a loved one in battle, please know how much I appreciate the sacrifice your loved one has made, and how much it means to me. Prayers are with you. Here's to our hope, joy in freedom - in our country and in God.
"Dearest Jesus, I thank you for sending to earth men and women who took on the strength and courage to go to battle in the name of freedom. May you be with their families and provide peace and comfort. I especially thank you, Jesus for the sacrifice that you made for me, that my sins will be no more and that I have a place with you in heaven. In your gracious name I pray, Amen."